Posts tagged Jon Niese
In Blue Jays beat writer Gregor Chisholm’s most recent blog post he talked to Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos about his thoughts on Kelly Johnson, the Pujols contract, and most importantly Anthopoulos’ objectives and wish list for the rest of this offseason. On the topic of his wish list for the rest of the offseason Anthopoulos said, “I think there are a lot of areas we could still address. You’d always love if you could add a bat to the middle of the lineup — that would be great. Realistically, I don’t know how possible that would be and right now I don’t see us being able to do that but things could change…I would love to add a mid to front rotation starter, again, that’s easier said than done because I think every team in the game is going to look to do something like that. We definitely still need to solidify our bullpen. We’ve taken care of the ninth inning but we still need to take care of the eighth inning and continue to build that depth.” In the spirit of the holiday season I thought I would go over a couple of options to fulfill all the items on the Jays GM’s Christmas list.
Middle of the Order Bat
Currently the Blue Jays have two “middle of the order bats” in Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, but after some lack luster production from Lind in the second half and Edwin in the first half, Anthopoulos obviously wants an upgrade. To start the offseason there was two prime first base bats in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but with Pujols signing with the Angels and in the process reseting the market for Fielder, it has become a little bit more difficult. Despite that there is still some bats in both the trade market and free agency that Anthopoulos has the chance to go after, I’m just not sure he needs to, but nonetheless I looked at options anyways.
Recently we heard that the New York Mets are willing to listen to everyone on their roster save for David Wright, which would therefore include first baseman Ike Davis. Davis spent a majority of the past season on the disabled list, but prior to his injury in the month of April Davis had the 3rd highest wOBA in the MLB only after Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera. In that short time Ike Davis hit 7 home runs and was on a 30 home run pace despite playing in one of the worst hitters parks in the MLB. To go along with his Major League success Davis was ranked as the number 62 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season. As the market has yet to be set for Ike Davis I can’t really say what it would take to get to acquire the young cost-controllable first baseman, but I will guess something along the line of Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Perez.
With the Pujols signing the MLB lost the best free agent option, but also presumably gained another great option in return. This is because with the signing the Angels now have four 1B/DH types in Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, and Kendrys Morales and with only Trumbo to move to third base, there is likely going to be one who is the odd man out. Granted Morales is coming off a season in which he was injured and the Angels would likely be selling low, but it doesn’t seem like they have another option. Plus the sell low likely works in the Blue Jays favor. Like Davis there has been no set market yet, but if I had to guess I would say it could take the likes of Deck McGuire and say J.P. Arencibia.
Prince Fielder (In Depth Look)
Since the Albert Pujols signing has gone through Prince Fielder has by default become the most sought after power bat. We have heard that the Cubs, Brewers, Jays, Mariners, Rangers, and even the Orioles could be players for Fielder. Currently the reports are such that Scott Boras is looking to get Fielder a 8 year 200 million deal, which would be out of the Jays price range as they have stated that they won’t go past a 5 year deal at this point. There is still the possibility that the market for Fielder falls through and the Jays can become a player, but it is highly unlikely. Fielder would look great hitting behind Bautista, but I doubt it happens.
Mid-Front of the Rotation Starter
Currently as the Jays rotation stands it looks to be Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, and Dustin McGowan. With that rotation the Jays have a usable set of starters, but not one that is anywhere close to being a contending rotation in the AL East. With that said here are a few options to up the front of the rotation.
Yu Darvish (In Depth Look)
Link to Yu Darvish‘s “Japanese Baseball Players” Page
Darvish was recently posted by his team in the NPB the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and has become the most sought after pitcher on the market. It has been reported that the Red Sox, Rangers and Jays are the ones with the most interest, but in the posting system it only takes one team to change everything. With that said the Jays have had reported interest, mostly based on the fact that Anthopoulos himself went to see Darvish in Japan, but with the Jays policy of not commenting on any players it is impossible to know their true thoughts. I personally believe that Darvish will make a good transition to the big leagues and would love for them to pick him up, but with the posting system it is such a crapshoot anything could happen.
Jon Niese (In Depth Look)
Niese rumours like Ike Davis rumours are a product of the Mets statement that they would be willing to trade everyone on their roster. Niese also like Davis is young and cost controllable and potentially an undervalued asset. He may take a little more than expected as he is supposedly sought after by multiple teams, but I believe he is worth it. Based on his peripheral stats as well his scouting reports he seems to be a good bet to become a future #2 starter, something the Jays could always use more of. In my other post I outlined that I thought it would take Travis Snider and Deck McGuire to acquire Niese, which may seem like a lot, but the pitching market is low and Niese is a lot better than you think.
Before the offseason you would not have thought of Santana as a obvious trade candidate, but he is coming off a career season that the Angels could sell high on in an offseason with very little pitching. Plus with CJ Wilson being added to the Angels pitching staff Ervin Santana becomes expendable. First off of the three candidates listed Santana is probably a last resort as the Angels are selling high and Santana would likely cost much more than he is worth. As well on top of the sell high aspect Ervin Santana only has two years left on his contract and would be paid $11.2 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2013, likely above what both Niese and Darvish would get, for what could quite possibly be lesser production. The reason I see to acquire Ervin Santana is a better track record and therefore more probable production, but with Niese and Darvish you have the upside, which may appeal more to AA.
Solidifying the Bullpen
This offseason the bullpen is often brought up as the biggest thing that the Blue Jays need to address because of their “25 blown saves”. As flawed as the argument is I’m not going to get into it and instead look at the bright side. First the Blue Jays acquired their closer for a little while in Sergio Santos and second the Jays have many young arms vying for a bullpen spot, which are both positives for the team. I’m sure Anthopoulos will acquire some middle reliever be it in trade or free agency, but picking the starters and positions players that the Jays will acquire is hard enough with The Silent Assassin as the Jays GM, trying to guess which relievers he acquires would be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Sergio Santos is a prime example, I bet you could count on one hand the number of people that projected that the Jays would trade for Santos. The Santos deal came out of nowhere just like the Rauch deal from last year as well as the Francisco trade, it’s simply too hard to guess. All we as Jays fans can hope for is that the Blue Jays bullpen is better and has less blown saves, not because blown saves matter, but to silence the complainers who have no idea what they are talking about.
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Recently it was reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the New York Mets are getting offers on pitcher Jonathan Niese with the Blue Jays among the teams interested. Niese is a 25 year old starter whose repertoire consists of a 90 mph fastball with solid command, a dominant curveball and a solid cutter and changeup. Niese’s traditional stats suggest he is somewhat of a mid to back of the rotation starter with a career 4.39 ERA and 22-23 record, but the peripheral stats suggest he is much better. Above all of this what I find particularly interesting is he seems to be Ricky Romero’s statistical twin. They are both southpaws who have similar service times (Niese at 2.107, Romero at 3.000), but there is a lot more.
For starters both Romero and Niese have the exact same career strikeout rate at 19.2% and are similar in their walk rates at 7.5% and 9.4% for Niese and Romero respectively. Beyond that Niese and Romero are also very similar in their batted ball profiles with Niese’s career numbers at a 20.5 LD%, a 49.1 GB%, and a 30.3 FB%, while Romero’s numbers are at a 17.2 LD%, a 54.7 GB%, and a 28.2 FB%. To top it off both Romero and Niese have similar home run rates at 11.8 HR/FB% and 10.7 HR/FB% in their careers.
Not only are Romero and Niese statistical twins, but Niese’s actual rate stats as well as his adjusted ERAs suggest that he is much better than he has shown, which makes him a prime trade target. Over his career Niese has consistently outperformed his ERA with a career ERA at 4.39, but with a career FIP at 3.77 and a career xFIP at 3.64. Most particularly notable is Niese’s xFIP from this past season which was at 3.28 and 1.12 points lower than his 4.40 ERA. Niese’s career low xFIP if qualified would have ranked 14th in the league between Anibal Sanchez and Dan Haren. Some of the xFIP is probably derived from Citi Field, but taking in to account that Niese is mainoly a groundball pitcher means that Citi shouldn’t affect his numbers too much.
All of this Niese hyping is nice, but really doesn’t meaning anything if he doesn’t come for the right price. On the Getting Blanked Podcast they suggested Snider plus something else, because Snider alone probably isn’t enough. I would suggest something along the lines of Travis Snider and Deck McGuire, Snider an outfielder which is something that the Mets could use and a pitching prospect who projects as a mid rotation starter. It is a steep price to pay and it could leave you with having to play Thames in LF for 2012, but for a guy who is right now an easy #3 in the AL East with his groundball style and one who could easily become a Romero 2.0, which is a very valuable commodity. Romero made the adjustments as a 25 and 26 year old pitcher, why can’t Niese?
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